tv U.S. House of Representatives CSPAN June 28, 2012 1:00pm-5:00pm EDT
friday before the wednesday in which we voted was demanding that the attorney general turn over documents that would have been illegal for him to turn over. transcripts of the grand jury. 15 seconds? mr. mcgovern: 15 seconds. mr. welch: transcripts of the grand jury. transcripts of wiretap applications which is not only a violation of the u.s. code but jeopardize law enforcement official it is that word got out. that is and irresponsible, overbroad subpoena. so bottom line, let the investigation continue, but let's acknowledge that the job that the committee needs to do before it asks for a vote of contempt has not been done. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from florida. . mr. nugent: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from texas, judge poe. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. poe: i thank the gentleman. mr. speaker, we are here today because of an ill-conceived,
dangerous, illegal gun-running scheme called operation fast and furious. this operation has resulted in the death of at least one, maybe two federal agents and in the death of hundreds of mexican nationals. yet we still cannot get a straight answer from the justice department as to what happened. the attorney general says he doesn't know who authorized this nonsense, but he won't let congress help him find out the facts. in december of last year, attorney general holder testified before the house judiciary committee and told me that operation fast and furious was flawed and reckless and that it was probably true more people are going to die. isn't that lovely? why is the attorney general being so obstinate? after months of delay, delay, delay, today is the day of reckoning. this administration claims to be the most transparent administration in history.
so why won't the administration let the american people know what happened during fast and furious? what are they hiding? this contempt resolution is about one thing. it's about finding out how such a stealth and dangerous ever be authorized by the government of the united states. why would our government help smuggle guns to our neighbor and put them in the hands of the enemy of mexico and the united states? the violent drug cartels. and no wonder the attorney general of mexico wants those in the united states who are responsible to be eblings tra -- to be extradited to mexico and tried for those possible crimes. mexico is more interested in fast and furious than our own government. as a former judge, i can tell you that contempt is used as a last resort to let individuals know they will comply with the lawful order whether they like it or not. evener to -- even the attorney
general cannot evade the law. time for america to find out the truth about gun smugtology mexico. time for a little transparency. today is judgment day. that's just the way it is. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. mcgovern: let me remind my friend that this gun walking program started under president bush and that's just the way it is. i would like to yield 15 seconds to the gentleman from texas. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for 15 seconds. >> i'm from texas, we believe it's our constitutional right to own every gun ever made and we don't want to export them anywhere. mr. green: but this is fewer politics and i ask unanimous consent to place my statement in the record. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. the gentleman from florida. mr. nugent: i yield two minutes to the gentlewoman from florida and former law enforcement
officer who lost her husband in the line of duty in florida. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes. mrs. adams: thank you. i worked many undercover operations. as a law enforcement officer, we knew you don't give guns to bad guys. the drug cartels, they're bad guys. you know if you let a gun walk with a bad guy, you're going to see that gun, whether it's at a crime scene or you'll be looking down the barrel of it. when the attorney general came to our committee, i asked him who approved this operation? why was it approved? and he said -- he wouldn't answer he didn't know. ok. well, what rises to the level of the attorney general if an international operation that allows guns to walk to another country and are used to kill one of our agents and used to
kill and maim their citizens doesn't rise to his level of approval, who approved it? this is something that is just normal procedures in our law enforcement agencies, in any operation. so now you have an attorney general who won't tell us or can't tell us who approved this international operation. you have others saying this is something that started under another administration. it didn't. that was a different operation that they realized they couldn't keep up with those guns so they stopped it. and this one started, it was flawed from the beginning. the attorney general said it was flawed from the beginning. and yet we still have no answers. we don't have answers, the american people don't have answers, and most importantly, the terry family doesn't have answers. and that's just unacceptable. let me just say this. i've heard from the other side of the aisle and from my colleagues here today that this is political. this isn't political. to me it's personal. we have a law enforcement
officer doing his job who was killed by a flawed operation that no one will take ownership of in the attorney general's office and the attorney general himself won't tell us what rises to the level of his knowing what's going on in his agency if an international operation does not. so i would tell you this, it was not political when i started looking into this and when we started looking into it. it is not political today. and the way that it became political is when it was asserted right before the gavel dropped in the committee an executive privilege. mr. nugent: i yield the gentlelady 15 seconds. mrs. adams: i ask you today to approve this resolution, bring some credibility back to our department of justice. this department of justice, if it had happened in another agency throughout this nation,
and one of our officers had died and the department of justice was involved in the investigation, they would be asking for the same dumonts that we are asking for. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. mcgovern sfk let me say to the gentlelady, if she's interested in why the united states pursued this gun walking program, talk to the attorney general under the bush administration, attorney general mccasey, where this thing started five years ago. and unfortunately, not withstanding the fact that the democrats have asked that he be called before the committee, their requests have been denied. she wants to know why this is political? every single witness that the democrats asked to be brought before the committee was denied. every single witness. mrs. adams: will the gentleman yield? mr. mcgovern: i will not. the fact that democrats have been locked out of having any of their witnesses come forward, this is not about gun
walking. this is not about finding the terrible truth about what happened to agent terry. this is about politics plain and simple. and it diminishes this house. i'd like to yield two minutes to the gentlewoman from the district of columbia, ms. holmes norton. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes. ms. norton: i thank the gentleman for yielding. any doubt that today's contempt resolution is political was put to rest when the n.r.a. joined in to blow torch vulnerable democrats to vote for contempt today. the gun lobby is directly responsible for the gap in federal law that allowed purchases of guns here that were sold in mexico and ultimately for the tragic death of a border agent. yet our committee spent no time on the root cause of the tragedy because of a political
mandate from the gun lobby. instead, after the majority failed to get dumonts it requested under court seal and dumonts related to ongoing investigations, it asked for -- and documents related to ongoing investigations, it asked for internal communications that no republican or democratic administration has ever given up. instead of sparing no effort to give law enforcement the tools they must have to protect our border agents, our committee has spare nod effort to get to today's contempt resolution over issues unrelated to the tragic killing. after 16 months the committee found no evidence that the attorney general or other top justice department officials knew about the a.t.f. gun walking and the committee
resolution -- resolutely refused to hear from top a.t.f. officials who said that they in turn had given the justice department no such information. it is attorney general holder who stopped the gun walking, authorized and started by the bush administration. the contempt today, mr. speaker, is for the truth. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida. mr. nugent: i want to make it very clear, the house rules, article 11, talk about specifically the rights of the minority. touf ask for that as a majority of the minority has to ask for it. it has to be focused on the issue at hand. they were talking about issues as it related to gun, i guess gun ownership. and that was not germane to that issue. so with that, i yield two minutes to the gentleman from
arizona, mr. quell hoe. -- mr. quayle. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. quayle: for months my colleagues and i worked to investigate the killing of brian terry. efforts to bring accountability to those responsible for met with derision by attorney general holder. at hearings when we questioned mr. holder, he evaded. when we requested documents, he obfuscated. when i questioned him on june , he looked me in the eye and stated plainly there was nothing whatsoever in the wiretap applications that suggested the existence of a gun walking program yet all i had to do was review the same applications to see that what the attorney general said to me, my colleagues and to the american people was nothing but a boldfaced lie.
mr. speaker, i will repeat that again. it was a boldfaced law. today, let congress' vote be a signal to mr. holder that dishonesty on the part of the administration officials will never be tolerated, today, let this vote be a signal to president obama that the security of the american people must always come before his own job security and the job security of his cabinet officials. let this vote be a reminder to mr. holder and to president obama that despite their executive overreach, there are in fact three co-equal branches of government. let this vote demonstrate that congress has not forgotten its right or responsibility to provide oversight and bring accountability. i urge my colleagues to support the rule and the underlying resolution. thank you, mr. speaker, and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. mcgovern: mr. speaker, my colleague from florida, mr.
nugent, mentioned the issue of gun own -- gun ownership as it related to the witnesses the democrats wanted to have appear before the committee. how inviting the head of the a.t.f. which is responsible for fast and furious, or how inviting the former attorney general and knew about it how that has anything to do with gun ownership -- what that has to do with -- mr. nugent: mr. speaker -- the minority has -- mr. mcgovern: the minority submitted a request for witnesses in writing, we requested a day for minority witnesses, we were told they would not be granned. this is about politics. this by all measures is about politics. again the fact that we are doing this today i think diminishes the house of representatives. i yield two minutes to the gentleman from new jersey, mr. andrews.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. andrews: i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentleman is recognized. mr. andrews: every member of this chamber wants to get to the bottom of the issue of the tragic death of officer terry. and every member of the chamber wants to find out how the a.t.f. and justice department were run as related to that tragedy. so the committee that's looking into this refused to hear the testimony of the person running the ample t.f. and the committee that's lacking -- that's looking into this refused to hear the testimony of the assistant attorney general who was responsible for the a.t.f. and talked about this with attorney general holder. the committee that is responsible for this received thousands of pages of documents from the attorney general to try to get to the bottom of the matter. this procedure does violence to the american constitution. yes, we have three separate
branches. those branches are designed to respect each other's prerogatives. those bramples are designed to avoid a constitutional confrontation and engage in one only one -- engage in one only when necessary. in the 225-year history of this institution, there has never been a vote like this one before. never. is it because the attorney general didn't turn over documents? he turned over thousands of pages of documents. sit because the people that know about this issue haven't been made available? to the contrary. the committee refused to hear the testimony of the head of the a.t.f. and the assistant attorney general. this procedure diminishes the house. it vandalizes the constitution. it should not go forward. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from florida.
mr. neugebauer: it -- mr. nugent: i yield to the gentleman from utah, mr. chaffetz. mr. chaffetz: two days -- two days, that record is there. it's crystal clear. we were also can he need by the department of justice to speak with bruer and blanco, the two highest at the department of justice. to suggest that we -- attorney general holder was here nine times between the house and senate talking about fast and furious and then say they don't have a witness. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. mcgovern: we need to deal with facts in this case because it's an important matter. the gentleman talked about these hearings, these meetings
with the head of the a.t.f. the reality was that a year ago republican staff met with the head of the a.t.f. on july 3 without notifying democratic staff. democratic staff who were invited to come on july 4. there were no public hearings and no members were there. so again i'm not sure what the problem is with having the head of the a.t.f. come before the committee so the american people can hear what the truth is and what the facts are. i don't know why that's such a big deal. but to suggest this was a bipartisan effort is just outright false. mr. speaker, at this time i yield two minutes to the gentlewoman from maryland, ms. edwards. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from maryland is recognized for two minutes. ms. edwards: thank you, mr. speaker, and i ask permission to add my comments to the record. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. ms. edwards: mr. speaker, the republican majority is pursuing an unprecedented and a partisan
constitutional confrontation today and it's unnecessary. the contempt resolution that's before the house is both disgraceful and it really is demeaning to this house. it's being brought forth by the other side simply to drag attorney general holder through the mud and to publicly accuse him and the administration and frankly by extension the president of the united states of a cover-up, claiming that our attorney general was obstructing justice. republicans even went so far to call him a liar on national television. this is unheard of, it's hyper bollic and it's disrespectful to the office and to the house. the fact that chairman issa and republicans have continuously moved the goal post and disregarded the good intent and good faith shown by the attorney general, the justice department and the president's administration. as has been said before, the department of justice has provided the congress with over 7,600 pages of documents and made numerous officials
available for testimony. but that's been rebuffed. and just last week the attorney general offered to provide even more internal documents and requested a show simply of good faith on the part of the republican majority that they wanted to resolve the contempt issue, but they refused, choosing this constitutional confrontation instead. and that's because the republicans, to be clear, are not interested in a resolution. they are not looking to compromise. they're only looking to score political points at the expense of the integrity of the house and the good name of the president and the attorney general. and so i would ask us to carefully consider what we're doing here today and to raise into question what we're doing to this house, to the institution and to the presidency. and i would ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to ask themselves whether the american people want us to focus on their business, to focus on the about is of moving the country forward or to simply play politics because
you can't win any other way. and it's a really simple proposition that's in front of us today, and i would say to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, it is time for us to simply walk away from the nonsense that is not doing justice to the american people and with that i yield. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. the gentleman from florida. mr. nugent: i'd like to inquire how much time? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida has 9 1/2 minutes remaining. the gentleman from massachusetts has 10 minutes remaining. mr. nugent: i continue to reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. mcgovern: mr. speaker, i'd like to yield two minutes to the gentleman from california, mr. schiff. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized for two minutes. mr. schiff: i thank the gentleman for yielding and i rise in strong opposition to this resolution. what began as legitimate investigation into an operation called fast and furious has unfortunately degenerated into yet another partisan political attack in an election year. it's a shame this has taken place for many reasons. first and foremost because the
american people have a legitimate interest in getting to the bottom of the gun violence that spills across our border, of the tens of thousands of weapons made in america that winds up in the hands of the cartels. instead of looking into this investigation, instead of finding out what we can do about this gun violence, this has now become a fight over documents, a fight that is completely unnecessary and unjustified. the very documents that are at issue in this resolution were created after this operation had long been -- since been shut down. they will shed no light on the operation. they will shed no light on what we can do to stop this gun trafficking. but then that's not the goal. the goal here is simply the fight. the justice department has bent over backwards, produced thousands of documents. the attorney general has testified eight or nine times before the house, has made every effort to cooperate in this investigation, but the committee will not take yes for an answer because that's not the goal.
the fight is the goal, and so we are here when we should be doing the nation's business, when we should be working on legislation to create jobs. instead we are here in what is nothing less than a partisan brawl over nothing, and you know how this will end, it will end months or years from now with a settlement in federal district court in which the justice department will provide the very same documents they have already offered to provide. but we will have wasted our time, we will have wasted our money and we will have wasted the precious opportunity to get the people's business done here in the house. in case the majority hasn't noticed, we are in the midst of a very difficult economy where people are struggling to find work. they are not struggling to find another partisan fight on the house floor. this is something that cried out for resolution, but those cries were ignored. i urge a no vote. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. does the gentleman from florida reserve? mr. nugent: mr. speaker, i yield two minutes to the
gentleman from utah, mr. chaffetz. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from utah is recognized for two minutes. mr. chaffetz: thank you, mr. speaker. the reason i am so passionate about this issue is that it's about openness. it's about transparency. it's about the idea that there is no one person in our government that's above the law. that when you have a duly issued subpoena you comply with that subpoena. i'd like to hearken back the remarks of president obama as he took office. he said, quote, let me say this as simply as i can. transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency. i will also hold myself as president to a new standardness of openness. but the fact that you have legal power to keep something secret doesn't mean you should always use it. he said, i expect members of my administration not only to live up to the letter but to the spirit of this law. he went on to say something to all the department heads. government should not keep things confidential because errors or failures might be revealed or because of
speculative or abstract fears, end quote. the president further said, quote, there may be a situation in which a serious mistake was made and if that's the case we will hold someone accountable, end quote, relating to fast and furious. we have a dead border patrol agent. we have over 200 dead mexican people. we have a program that the attorney general called this fundamentally flawed. we have thousands of weapons that are missing. we have a duty, an obligation to pursue this to the fullest extent and to make sure we have all those documents so we can make sure it never ever happens again. now, there are 140,000 documents, according to the attorney general, that deal with fast and furious. we have been given less than 8,000 of those. less than 8,000 of those. we deserve to have that. under general leave i will be leaving this statement from the national border patrol council. this is the afl-cio-oriented organization, 17,000 border patrol members who call for
resignation of attorney general holder. in fact, they say that a slap in the face to all border patrol agents who serve this country, an utter failure of leadership at the highest level of government. if eric holder were a border patrol agent he would have long been unsuitable for position and been terminated. these are people on the front line. we need to get to the bottom of this. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from massachusetts is recognized. mr. mcgovern: i yield myself 15 seconds. why do the committee have secret meetings that lock democrats out? why wouldn't they let any democratic witnesses appear before the committee? since there seems to be some confusion whether democrats formally requested witnesses, i'd like to ask unanimous consent from the honorable darrell issa on october 24, november 4, february 2 requesting witnesses including the attorney general, former attorney general mukasey. mr. chaffetz: if the gentleman will yield? mr. mcgovern: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from georgia, mr. johnson.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from georgia is recognized for two minutes. mr. johnson: thank you, mr. speaker. today we need to understand that there are two types of documents that -- two classes of documents. the ones that relate to pending criminal investigations. those are not discoverable or cannot be distributed outside of the justice department under penalty of u.s. law. you can get five years for doing that. you can't expect the attorney general to turn those over. the other class of documents in terms of communications. there may be some whiff of discoverable information in those, but they're covered by executive privilege, and you really don't know why the attorney general has invoked sgreck tif privilege on those issues -- executive privilege on those issues but we have to
trust the fact there is good reason for that to be the case. now, when you compare what has gone on today and over the last seven days with what happened the day that president obama was sworn in, you can understand why they're doing what they're doing today. you see, not very long after president obama was sworn in we got word that mitch mcconnell said that his mission was to make president obama a one-term president. and then we know that later on that afternoon, later that evening when everyone else was enjoying themselves at the presidential balls, there was a group of congresspeople, leadership in the republican party, that were scheming on how they were going to disrupt and say no and obstruct everything that this president put forth. and so they have done that.
they have done everything they can to make this president look bad. this is a manufactured crisis. it has no legal substance whatsoever. this is just simply a cheap political stunt to bring disfavor upon the president of the united states. and i ask my colleagues to not let us sink to this level. the first time in history that any cabinet member has been found in contempt in court. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. johnson this is a truly saddening day and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida. mr. nugent: i yield to the gentleman from oklahoma, mr. lankford. plankford: this has sunk to the level of now concealing documents. never has an attorney general been held in contempt of congress because every other attorney general has turned over documents to congress when
they were requested. this attorney general has not. now, just compare this whole controversy on the secret service scandal from several months ago. they put everything out, released all the documents. done. the g.s.a. scandal, released all the documents. done. even the a.t.f. put all their documents out. put all their people out. done. as soon as we get to the department of justice, it's slow, it's delay, it's delay, it's delay. the question is why. why this matters that we get to the department of justice and documents -- in the phoenix office, everything was organized in the phoenix office. then was approved by the u.s. attorney in the phoenix area and then went to the department of justice, not to the head of a.t.f. but to the department of justice, to d.o.j. and their leadership to be approved. it is essential we know what was done there and who did it in the process. so this is not some ancillary thing that's added to it. this is an important part of this process. now, there's all this saying
this is bush's fault, this is political, there is not enough witnesses. the issue of this contempt deals with the documents that on february 4 of last year, the department of justice sent us a letter that said they had no idea about this and then by december, after all year long saying, no, we didn't know, we didn't know, come back in december and say, oops, we did. this is what eric holder is calling the evolving truth. there is 130,000 documents that they say they have. they've turned over a little over 7,000 of those documents. that is not the prerogative for them to continue to hold and conceal those documents. fast and furious has moved slow. mr. nugent: i yield 15 seconds. mr. lankford: fast and furious has moved to slow and tedious. we have to get those documents to finish up this investigation that has -- should have been long since been done. eric holder is using the documents as a bargaining chip to get a better deal. that is not the prerogative when we have a subpoena. we are not looking for some
conflict with the administration. we're looking to get to the facts. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. mcgovern: mr. speaker, i yield 1 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. fattah. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized for 90 seconds. mr. fattah: i thank the gentleman. and i served for many years on the government oversight and reform committee. i've been involved in a lot of these investigations over time. i served for many years on the house ethics committee. the congress should be embarrassed about the conduct of this investigation than charade that brings us to the floor today. the attorney general can't provide these dumonts. the president has protected them under executive order. under executive privilege. which means that theperson who works for the president can't provide them to the congress, we all know that. so to take a decent man who served his country in almost every capacity, as a military veteran, as a u.s. attorney here in d.c., as a judge, and
to drag his name wrongfully before this house, this majority, which clearly has lost its way, in pursuit of power they've lost all sense of principle. s that disgraceful act. we will get through it. we are a big country. the american people will recognize the disservice the republican majority brings to this floor today. i wouldn't be surprised at the end of the day whether we couldn't even find this congress held in more contempt than it is now. i think we're at 9% approval. that's because of the actions of the majority and the public will have to take account of that as we go forward. i thank the gentleman. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida. mr. nugent: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. mcgovern: i yield to the gentlelady from california, ms. speer, two minutes. sproy the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes.
ms. speier: thank you and i thank the gentleman from massachusetts. this should be labeled fast and foolish. or maybe fast and fake. we are not talking about gun walking here. we are doing nothing to help the family of brian terry recover. what we're talking about are interoffice emails between the administration executives and the a.g.'s office. i want everyone here to be willing to turn over all of their interoffice emails. more importantly, let's talk about whether there's precedence for the assertion of executive privilege. let me just point to a number of cases when executive privilege was asserted for non-involved presidential communication. in 1981, october, president reagan asserted executive privilege over internal slickses within the department of superior concerning, interestingly enough, mineral lands leasing act. in october, 1982, president reagan asserted executive
privilege over e.p.a. files concerning superfund provisions. on july, 1986, president reagan asserted executive privilege over documents written by william rehnquist when he was head of o.l.c. at the d.o.j. in 1991, george h.w. bush asserted executive privilege regarding an aircraft development contract. december, 11, president george w. bush asserted executive privilege over materials relating to prosecutorial decision making. it's been done many, many times before, many times by republican presidents. what we are doing here is a travesty to this institution -- to this institution and to this country. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida. mr. nugent: i reserve. sproy gentleman from massachusetts. mr. mcgovern: can i inquire how many more spookers the gentleman has? we have no more speakers on this side.
mr. nugent: we have no more speakers. mr. mcgovern: i yield myself the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two and a quarter minutes. mr. mcgovern: there isn't a single person in this house who doesn't honor the service of agent terry. there isn't a single person who does not want justice for agent terry's tamly and the truth there isn't a single person in this house who doesn't want to get to the bottom of how gun walking started and how these operations were so terribly botch. but every single attempt for even-handed investigation has been thwarted by the republican majority. there has not been an even-handed investigation. every single witness the democrats requested to be called before the committee, they were refused. every single witness. let me say that eric holder is a good, decent, honorable man. he's doing an excellent job as attorney general. he does not deserve this. this institution does not deserve this i say to my
friends on the other side of the aisle, do you really want to go down this road? this is a race to the bottom. this is a race to the bottom. this is a witch hunt, this is politics, pure and simple. it diminishes this house of representatives. we are better than this. does everything have to be a confrontation? does everything have to be in your face? i get it, you want to maintain your majority. i get it, you want to win elections. that's understandable. but at what cost? do we really need to drag the house of representatives down this road? this is a stain on this house of representatives. we should not be here today. we should be talking about jobs and putting people back to work, about making sure student loans don't double. but instead we are doing this. this is so political and so blatantly partisan that i think the american people are sickened by this the number of people who have said you want to know why the approval rating
of congress is so low? watch the videotape of this debate here today. we should be doing the people's business, this is not the people's business. this is not about getting to the truth in the case of agent terry. s that political maneuver to go after this administration. and this is unfortunately -- this has unfortunately become a trend and pattern in this congress. we need to find a way to solve our problems without always having these big confrontations. i urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, don't go down this road. we urge the speaker of the house yesterday to pull this from the floor. this is wrong. please defeat this rule. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from florida. mr. nugent: mr. speaker, this is about agent terry who gave his life for this country. this is about what this government has done, not to expose the truth but to block the truth. this is about calling on the
attorney general to follow the constitution. this is about us following article 1 of the constitution in regards to our ability to have oversight. you know, i hear about witch hunt and politics and it gets me sick. because i will tell you this, as a former law enforcement officer, we should be more worried about what lousy policies that attorney general holder is covering up that caused the death of one of our own in protecting this country. that's what this is all about. this is about holding people accountable. you know, you hear a lot of thing downs here but the rule of law, you know, when you have i was subpoenaed as a sheriff, we complied with the subpoena. i know, i understand that the attorney general feels he's above the law in regards to the subpoena. and i understand the president's come in his -- come
to protect him. but we talk about this body, what the american people think, how about we do the right thing, that mr. speaker -- the right thing, mr. speaker that we move forward and do the right thing in regards to, all the attorney general has to do is comply with the subpoena. and by saying that he's bent over backwards, i would suggest to you that under 8,000 pages of dumonts -- documents under 140,000 is not bending over backwards. this is about our constitutional responsibility to provide oversight. this is about our constitutional responsibility to make sure that the federal government stays on track. that these executive branch decisions that are made don't put more americans at risk. nobody seems to care about the 200-plus mexican nationals that have been killed. obviously mexico cares.
because they want to indict those that were responsible for coming up with this failed idea. this is about congress doing its constitutional responsibility. holding hearings to find out what happened. and when the federal government or branches of the federal government stand in the way and obstruct, that's not the right thing to do. my friends on the other side of the aisle should be more concerned that the attorney general has said to congress, guess what, you don't matter. congress does matter. congress has a constitutional responsibility, mr. speaker, to do just that. to have oversight other the -- over the executive branch. really, the subpoena is a tool to allow us to do that. unfortunately, this attorney general feel he is doesn't have to comply.
i beg to differ. i think the american people, but more than that, the family of officer terry deserve to know what transpired and what the end of this is. and i think that we should be protecting those law enforcement officers that are out there today in the united states of america that are going to be facing the same guns that were walked during fast and furious. if you read the transcripts, hundreds of guns walked. some were recovered in the united states and unfortunately, some have been recovered in mexico and have led to deaths in mexico. one has to wonder how many of those guns will lead to deaths here in america. you know, i raised my hand along with everybody else, it was to support and defend the constitution. i raised my hand as a sheriff, it was to support and defend the constitution and when officer terry raised his hand it was to support and defend the constitution and laws of
the united states of america. we owe it to all our law enforcement officers, federal law enforcement officers in particular on this issue, to make sure that they're protected and to all our local law enforcement officers who are going to be the first line of defense on the streets of the city -- streets of the cities and counties. they have a right to know what this attorney general's office has done and the leadership has done, not giving people a free pass because it's expedient to do and we really don't want to hear what the absolute facts are. let's just push the facts aside. those on the other side of the aisle don't want to talk about the facts. they want to talk about things, it's a witch hunt, it's politics. the facts are clear. officer terry is dead. officer terry died because weapons were allowed to walk from the united states under the nose of a.t.f. and under the nose of the
attorney general's office. that's the facts. i would suggest that we should find out how did that come to pass? and then in regards to what was transpired and sent to congress, members of congress, about the fact that it didn't really occur and then 10 months later, oh, by the way, that memo we sent wasn't correct. we did in fact allow guns to walk. we put law enforcement officers in the united states of america at risk because this federal government had a botched idea and a bad idea. with that, i yield back the balance of my time and i move the previous question on the resolution. the speaker pro tempore: without objection the previous question is ordered. the question is on adoption of the resolution. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the rslution is agreed to. mr. mcgovern: i ask for a recorded vote. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentleman ask for the yeas
and nays? mr. mcgovern: i ask for the yeas and nays. the speaker pro tempore: the yeas and nays are requested. those in support of the vote by the yeas and nays will rise. a sufficient number having risen, the yeas and nays are ordered. this 15-minute vote will be followed by five-minute votes on suspending the rules and pass handgun h.r. 401 if ordered. this is a 15-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]
on this vote the yeas are 254. the nays are 173. the resolution is adopted. without objection, a motion to reconsider is laid upon the table. the unfinished business is on the question on suspend the rules and passing h.r. 4251, as amended, which the clerk will report by title. the clerk: union calendar number 369, h.r. 4251, a bill to authorize enhance and reform certain port security programs to increase sufficiency and risk-based coordination within the department of homeland security, and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: the question is, will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill as amended. so many as are in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 of those voting having responded in the affirmative, the rules -- >> mr. speaker. mr. speaker, i request the yeas and nays. the speaker pro tempore: the yeas and nays are requested. those favoring a vote by the
yeas and nays will rise. a sufficient number having arisen, the yaped. members will record their votes by electronic device. -- the yeas and nays are ordered. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a five-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]
question on suspending the rules and passing h.r. 4005 which the clerk will report by title. the clerk: union calendar 252. h.r. 4005, a bill to direct the secretary of homeland security to conduct a study and report to congress on gaps in port security in the united states and a plan to address them. the speaker pro tempore: the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill as amended. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 having responded in the affirmative -- the gentleman from arizona? >> can i ask for the yeas and nays. the speaker pro tempore: all those in favor of taking this vote by the yeas and nays will rise and remain standing until counted. a sufficient number having arisen, the yeas and nays are ordered. this will be a five-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned
the speaker pro tempore: on this vote the yeas are 411. the nays are 9. 2/3 having responded in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed, and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. the house will be in order. would members please take their conversations from the floor, clear the well and the aisles?
for what purpose does the gentlelady from texas rise? ms. jackson lee: mr. speaker, pursuant to clause 2-a-1 of rule 9, i rise to give notice of my intent to raise a question of the privileges of the house, the form of the resolution is as follows. >> mr. speaker, the house is not in order. the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. i ask members on the minority side to take their conversations off the floor.
the gentlelady from texas is recognized. ms. jackson lee: raising a question of the privileges of the house. whereas the chair of the committee on oversight and government reform has interfered with the work of an independent agency, pressured an administrative law judge by compelling the production of documents related to an ongoing case, something that independent experts said could seriously undermine the authorities those charged with enforcing the nation's labor laws the. and which the house ethics manual discourages by noting that federal courts have nullified administrative decisions on grounds of due process and fairness to all of the parties when congressional
interference with ongoing administrative procedures may have unduly influenced the outcome. whereas the chairman of the committee on oversight and government reform rolled back precedence including by authorizing subpoenas without the concurrence of the ranking member or a committee vote by refusing to share documents and other information with the ranking member and restricting the minority's right to call witnesses at hearings. whereas the chair of the committee on oversight and government reform is jeopardized ongoing criminal and ongoing criminal investigation by publicly releasing documents that his own staff admitted were under court seal. whereas the chair of the committee on oversight and government reform has unilaterally subpoenaed a witness who was expected to testify at an upcoming trial despite precedents and objections by the department of justice, that could cause complications at the trial and could jeopardize a criminal conviction. whereas the chairman of the
oversight and government reform is engaged in an expression of confusion through the use of repeated incorrect and uncooperated statements in the committee's fast and furious investigation. whereas the chairman of oversiningt government reform has called the attorney general of the united states a liar on national television without crab rating evidence and has exhibited behavior which could result in jeopardizing an ongoing committee investigation into operation fast and furious. therefore, it be resolved that the house of representatives disapproves of the behavior of this chair for interfering with ongoing criminal investigations, insisting on a personal attack against the attorney general of the united states and for calling the attorney general of the united states a liar on national television without crab rating evidence, thereby discredits to the integrity of the house. the speaker pro tempore: under rule 9, a resolution offered from the floor by a member other than the majority leader
or the minority leader as a question of the privileges of the house has immediate precedence only at a time designated by the chair within two legislative days after the resolution is properly noticed. pending that designation, the form of the resolution noticed by the gentlelady from texas will appear in the record at this point. the chair will not at this point determine whether the resolution constitutes a question of privilege. that determination will be made at the time designated for consideration of the resolution. for what purpose does the gentleman from california rise? >> mr. speaker, by the direction of the committee on rules, i call up house report number 112-546. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the report. the clerk: house calendar number 140. report to accompany resolution recommending that the house of representatives find eric h. holder jr., attorney general,
u.s. department of justice, in contempt of congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the committee on oversight and government reform. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to house resolution 708, the report is considered as read. for what purpose does the gentleman from california, mr. issa, seek recognition? mr. issa: mr. speaker, by the direction of the committee on rules, i call up house resolution 711. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the resolution. the clerk: house resolution 711, resolution recommending that the house of representatives find eric h. holder jr., attorney general, u.s. department of justice, in contempt of congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the committee on oversight and government reform. . the speaker pro tempore: the resolution is considered as read and shall be debatable for 50 minutes equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking member of the committee on oversight and government
reform, or their designee. after debate on the resolution, it shall be in oinary to consider a motion to refer, if offered, by the gentleman from michigan, mr. dingell, or his designee, which shall be debatable for 10 minutes equally divided by a proponent or opponent. the gentleman from california, mr. issa, and gentleman from maryland, mr. cummings, will each control 20 minutes. the chair wreck -- 25 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california. mr. issa: thank you, mr. speaker. i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and insert extraneous material into the record for both resolutions made in order under the rule. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. issa: thank you, mr. speaker. i recognize myself -- i yield myself two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. the gentleman will suspend. the house will be in order. the gentleman from california is recognized for two minutes. mr. issa: thank you, mr. speaker. i never thought we would be
here today. i never thought this point would come. throughout 18 months of investigation, through countless areas of negotiations in order to get the minimum material necessary to find out the facts behind fast and furious and the murder of brian -- border patrol agent brian terry, i always believed that in time we would reach an accommodation sufficient to get the information needed for the american people while at the same time preserving the ongoing criminal investigation. i'm proud to say that our committee has maintained the ability for the justice department to continue their ongoing prosecutions, neither the majority nor minority has allowed any material to become public that could compromise that. however, the facts remain fast and furious, the department of justice permitted sale of more than 2,000 weapons that fell into the hands of the mexican
drug cartels was both reckless and inexcusable, and it clearly was known by people both career professionals and political appointees from the lowliest member on the ground in phoenix to high ranking officials in the department of justice. but that's not what we are here for today. today we are here on a very narrow contempt, one that the speaker of the house in his wisdom and assistance has helped us to fashion. let it be clear we still have unanswered questions on a myriad of areas related to operation fast and furious, but today we are only here to determine over the 10 months from the time in which the american people and the congress of the united states was lied to, given false -- literally the reverse statement that no guns were allowed to walk. during that 10 months before the justice department finally owned up and recognized that
they had to come clean, that in fact fast and furious was all about gunwalking. the department of justice maintained a series of documents, many of these documents are believed to be communications between and with the very individuals at the heart of the decision to go forward with fast and furious. therefore we have focused our limited contempt on those documents. if our committee is able to receive the documents in totality that show who brought about the dishonest at the same time to congress and who covered it up for 10 months, we believe that will allow us to backtrack to the individuals who ultimately believed in fast and furious, facilitated fast and furious, and ultimately may be responsible for brian terry's death. i yield myself an additional 15 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. issa: i won't read everything that's in my opening statement. i will read just one more thing. these words were said on the
house floor in 2008. when speaker pelosi supported contempt. she said, congress has a responsibility of oversight of the executive branch. i know that members on both sides of the aisle take the responsibility very seriously. oversight is an institutional obligation to ensure against abuse of power, subpoena authority is a vital tool of that oversight. speaker pelosi, 2008. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: thank you very much, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: gentleman from maryland is recognized for as much time as he may consume. mr. cummings: today, mr. speaker, is a historic day in many ways. on the one hand in a landmark decision by chief justice john roberts, the supreme court upheld the health care bill ensuring that millions of american families will finally have access to effective and affordable health care. on the other hand, the
republican leaders of the house are about to plunge into the history books as some of the most extreme and partisan ever. rather than working together in a bipartisan way to create jobs and help our nation's economic recovery, they are rushing to the floor under emergency procedures with a contempt resolution that is riddledle with errors and motivated by partisan politics. when i first heard about the allegations of gunwalking at a.t.f., i was outraged. i fully supported our committee's goals of finding out how it started, how it was used, and how it may have contributed to the death of border patrol agent brian terry. i made a personal commitment which i will keep to the terry family to conduct a responsible and thorough inquiry. but today's contempt vote is a culmination of one of the most highly politicized and reckless
congressional investigations in decades. after receiving thousands of pages of documents from the justice department, conducting two dozen transcribed interviews, and hearing testimony from the attorney general nine times, here are the facts. first, the committee has obtained no evidence that the attorney general authorized, condoned, or knew about gunwalking. chairman issa admitted this just yesterday before the rules committee. we have seen no evidence that the attorney general lied to congress or engaged in a cover-up. we have seen no evidence that the white house had anything to do with the gunwalking operations. chairman issa admitted this on "fox news sunday" this past weekend. democratic -- democrats wanted a real investigation. chairman issa refused 10 different requests to hold a hearing where the director of a.t.f., the agency that ran
these misguided operations. let me say that again. during this entire investigation no member of the house has been able to pose a single question to the head of a.t.f. at a public hearing. how could you have a credible investigation of gunwalking at a.t.f. and never hold a single hearing with the leadership of the agency in charge? the answer is, you can't. based on the documents we know -- we now know, the gunwalking in fact started in 2006. yesterday chairman issa said this about the misguided operations during the bush administration and i quote, they were allle failures, end of quote. the committee has obtained documentary evidence that former attorney general mccasey was personally briefed on these botched interdiction efforts during his tenure and that he was told they would be expanded. chairman issa refused to call
mr. mccasey for a hearing or even for a private meeting. during our committee's year and a half investigation, the chairman refused every single democratic request for witness. instead of taking any of these reasonable steps as part of a credible and evenhanded investigation to determine the facts, house republican leaders rushed this resolution to the floor only one week after it was voted out of committee. in contrast, during the last congress, house leaders continued to negotiate for six months to try to avoid contempt in the united states attorney's investigation. mr. speaker, some of my colleagues on the other side seem almost giddy about today's vote. after turning this investigation into an election year witch-hunt, they somehow convinced the speaker to take it to the floor. and they are finally about to get the prize they have been seeking for more than a year,
holding the attorney general of the united states of america in contempt. they may view today's vote as a success, but in reality it is a sad failure, a failure of our leadership, a failure of our constitutional obligations, and a failure of our responsibilities to the american people. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland reserves. the gentleman from virginia. -- california. million issa: the gentleman from -- i'll leave his statement where it lay. i now yield three minutes to the gentleman from pennsylvania, the distinguished congressman meehan, a former u.s. attorney in that district. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized for three minutes. mr. meehan: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, this is not about politics. though there are some if they want to suggest that it is because of you yell at it long
enough it will deflect the truth of the matter. it's not about gotcha. as a former prosecutor myself. the attorney general personifies the pursuit of justice and i want to see him do well, but it is about accountability. agent brian terry is dead, protecting our border, and 5 3 days later the -- 563 days later the terry family still does not know why it occurred. what they do know is that the very agency that initiated fast and furious, the department of justice, under attorney general eric holder, called the operation fatally flawed and then the wagons got circled. it's about the separation of powers. as uncomfortable as it may be at times, it's a fundamental tenet and strength of our democracy that congress is given not just the power but
the responsibility to exercise its duty -- oversight over the executive, especially when by their own admission things have gone glaringly wrong. because the justice department has stubbornly resisted the tempt inquiries of congress, over operation fast and furious, there's so much we do not know. but because whistle blowers within the department of justice were outraged mischaracterizations, there is a great deal that we do know. what we do know is that we have been dealing with a systematic effort to deflect attention away from the decisions and determinations that were made at the highest levels of the department of justice where information was brought directly to individuals at the highest levels of the department of justice, information that was contained in wiretap affidavit that laid out in explicit detail the matters related to fast and
furious. mr. speaker, there is a famous quotation in the department of justice about the responsibility of the attorney general not being to win cases but to assure that justice is pursued and retained. mr. speaker, it is incumbent and a responsibility on this house to do what is required to do in this circumstance and to support the request that we be given the documents to obtain the facts that will allow us to draw the conclusions which i believe allow us to get to the bottom of this. mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: mr. speaker, i yield to the distinguished gentleman from illinois, mr. quigley, two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from illinois is recognized for two minutes. mr. quigley: thank you, mr. speaker. those bringing this contempt vote say they want to talk about gunwalking and how to stop it. ok, let's have that conversation.
they say they want to stop gun trafficking and keep our a.t.f. agents safe. well, then, let's properly fund the a.t.f. which is the same number of agents since 1970. they say they want to stop gun trafficking. then appoint a permanent a.t.f. director which the agency hasn't had in six years. they say they want to stop gun trafficking, let's pass some laws which actually deter straw purchasers. straw purchasers concurrently buy thousands of ak-47's, lie on their paperwork, and the penalty is equivalent to a moving violation. they say they want to stop gun trafficking, let's give the agents what they have been asking for, the ability to track multiple purchases of long guns. these long guns include ak-47's, assault weapons, and 50 caliber semiautomatic sniper rifles, the weapons of choice for international drug cartels. they say they want to stop gun trafficking, let's close the gun show loophole which currently allows anyone to purchase any gun they want
without a background check. felons, domestic violence abusers, those with severe mental illness, even those on the terrorist watch list can currently walk into a gun show and purchase any gun they want. 2,000 guns were allowed to walk to mexico, but the truth is tens of thousands of guns a cross our border every year because of those lax gun laws. those bringing this contempt vote don't want to have this conversation and aren't serious about stopping gun trafficking. they simply want to embarrass the administration, even though the committee's 16-month investigation found no evidence the attorney general knew about gunwalking, even though there is no evidence the white house involvement in gunwalking, all of which chairman issa admitted on national tv last week. so if we are going to talk about gun trafficking, let's be clear, this is about politics not safety. i yield back. . the speaker pro tempore: the
gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from california. immigration and customs enforcement mr. speaker, the -- the gentleman from texas. mr. issa: mr. speaker, this is the refusal of turning over documents, not whether or not it was his lieutenants or he who was involved in fast and furious. with that i'd like to recognize the distinguished former chairman of the judiciary committee, the gentleman from wisconsin, mr. sensenbrenner, for two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from wisconsin is recognized for two minutes. mr. sensenbrenner: mr. speaker, this isn't about politics. this is about the constitution. and it's about congress' map date to do oversight -- mandate to do oversight over both executive and judicial branches of government. the president is asserting executive privilege to attempt to shield these documents. and he is relying on a type of primpling called the deliberative process privilege. however, that privilege disappears when congress' investigating evidence of
wrongdoing. and in 1997 the u.s. court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit wrote in part, moreover, the privilege disappears altogether when there is any reason to believe that government misconduct has occurred. in another case, it was decided by the first circuit in 1995, it says that the grounds that shielding internal government deliberations in this context does not serve the public interest in honest, effective government. there has been misconduct that's already a matter of public record in two instances. the justice department wrote senator grassley in january of 2011 saying that the a.t.f. sanction gunwalking across the border was false and it took them nine months to retract that letter. so they also led congress, and then nine months later they said, oops. maybe he with did mislead
congress and we'll withdraw the letter. and in may, 2011, the attorney general testified before the judiciary committee that he first heard of operation fast and furious a few weeks before the hearing. over six months later, he conceded that he should have said a few months. now, this very clearly shows that congress has got the proliferation to get the -- to the bottom of this, and that the assertion of the executive privilege by the president and the attorney general is not based in law. we ought to go ahead and do our job and do our oversight, and it's too bad that the justice department has decided to try to obstruct congress' ability to do it. pass the resolution. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: i yield to the gentleman from virginia, mr.
connolly, two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. connolly: the 112th congress is the first in history to hold a cabinet member in contempt. when they say it's not about politics, you can be sure it's about politics. the majority's irresponsible and unprecedented contempt vote brings dishonor to this house which has been so clouded in judgment, that it's incapable of addressing a fundamental separation of powers conflict in a serious and fair fashion. in refusing to engage in good faith negotiations with the department of justice and the attorney general, the majority has exposed this contempt citation for what it really is, an extraordinarily shameful political witch-hunt aimed at trashing an honorable man. it's unacceptable. we're rushing to the floor, this unprecedented contempt resolution. yesterday, ranking member cummings sent a letter to the speaker highlighting 100
errors, omissions, mischaracterizations of fact contained in the contempt citation itself. rushed out of our committee last week on a party line vote. although some of the contempt citations flaws are simply misleading, others have significant legal deficiencies and they contain factual errors that call into question the contempt citation itself. for example, on pages 4 and 5, the charges senior officials at the department of justice headquarters ultimately approved and authorized operation fast and furious. however, the consempt citation fails to mention the committee hasn't covered no evidence -- contempt citation fails to mention the committee hasn't covered no evidence. on pages 16, 17, 19, 0, 21, 22, 25, 26 and 27, the contempt
citation with not producing a series of document that the airman only recently acknowledged, the department is prohibited by law from providing due to the potential impact on ongoing prosecutions. in fact -- i would ask the gentleman for an extra 20 seconds. mr. cummings: i yield the gentleman 20 seconds. mr. connolly: you had to his own subpoena to delete documents in this own category but his contempt citation has not caught up with his most recent version of his subpoena. clearly the majority has not taken the necessary time to properly weigh this very serious charge. regrettably, this deeply flawed and shoddy contempt citation is emblem attic of the majority's reckless rush to judgment throughout this process. i have been deeply troubled of some of the very hostile questioning and the utter and complete lack of respect given to the attorney general of the united states. when this chapter of congressional history is written, it will be not a brave shining moment. it will be seen for what it is, a craven, crass, partisan move
that brings dishonor to this body, and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from california. mr. issa: i now yield one minute to the very distinguished and very always participating member of the committee from new york, ms. buerkle. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from new york is recognized for one minute. ms. buerkle: i thank the gentleman for his steadfast work on behalf of truth and trying to get to the bottom of fast and furious. mr. speaker, syracuse, new york, in the heart of my district, is roughly 2,500 miles from rico rico, arizona, where border patrol agent brian terry was tragically shot and killed by an ak-47 assault rifle that the united states knowingly allowed into the hands of a suspected gun trafficker. yet, every time i'm home, it is the issue first and foremost on the mind of my constituents. i listen to their calls, to
their emails and our town halls. they want to know what happened, who knew what and when did they know it. they ask me, they ask washington, they ask the department of justice, how could the united states government, the pillar of hope and freedom, allow for one of their own representatives, one of their own good guys to be so helplessly gunned down by a suspected criminal? mr. speaker, i'm embarrassed to say after 56 days i still don't have -- 562 days i still don't have an answer for them. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentlelady has expired. ms. buerkle: may i have one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for 10 seconds. ms. buerkle: is this the hope that the americans were supposed to believe in? out of the supposedly most transparent government in the history of our nation? it is my hope, mr. speaker,
that the district court judge will see through the attorney general's contempt of congress after it is passed in the house today. however, we must not be mistaken, even if the attorney general is prosecuted, the case is not closed. we must not forget that guns leaked through this program -- the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentlelady has expired. mr. issa: i yield the gentlelady 10 seconds. ms. buerkle: mr. speaker, after today's vote we must continue our effort to find more answers than there are questions relating to this administration's catastrophic fast and furious. the american people deserve the answer and the family of border patrol agent brian terry as well. thank you. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentlelady has expired. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: thank you very much. i yield the gentleman from missouri, mr. clay, two minutes, a member of the committee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from missouri is recognized for two minutes. mr. clay: mr. speaker, as a member of the oversight
committee, i know that the gunwalking operations conducted by the a.t.f. under both the previous and current administrations were absolutely wrong. but the leadership of this house is focused on shameful election-year political posturing instead of the real issue. the justice department long ago ended the practice of allowing these guns to walk across the border, putting communities in mexico at great risk, but the same people who have relentlessly pursued a baseless partisan attack on attorney general holder and the president have ignored the desperate pleas of the mexican government. to strengthen american gun laws and curb trafficking that gave rise to the strategy in the
first place. but focusing in on the real issue would take time away from them playing politics with the oversight authority. those on the other side of the aisle claim to be concerned about powerful assault weapons crossing the border into mexico illegally. but how can they be completely fine with those same powerful assault weapons being sold right here in this country legally putting our communities at even greater risk? this is more -- nothing more than a political witch-hunt. the disgraceful posturing that i have witnessed at last week's markup is continuing on the floor today. i agree it never should have come to this, but we are here debating this resolution solely because of the majority. they created the scandal and
produced a showdown during an election season just to spear an honorable public servant and to embarrass his boss. i urge my colleagues to reject this partisan, unprecedented resolution. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from california. mr. issa: thank you, mr. speaker. it's now my honor to yield one minute to the distinguished speaker of the house, john boehner. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from ohio, the speaker of the house, is recognized. the speaker: i want to thank my colleague for yielding. it's important for the american people to know how we got here and to know the facts of this case. the congress asked the justice department for the facts related from the fast and furious and the events that led to the death of u.s. border patrol agent brian terry. the justice department did not provide the facts and the information that we requested. instead, the information came
from people outside the department, people who wanted to do the right thing. in addition to not providing the information, the administration admitted misleading congress, actually detracting a letter it had sent 10 months earlier. i think all the members understand this is a very serious matter. the terry family wants to know how this happened and they have every right to have their answers and the house needs to know how this happened and it's our constitutional duty to find out. so the house oversight and government reform committee issued a lawful and narrowly tailored subpoena. we've been patient, giving the justice department every opportunity to comply so that we can get to the bottom of this for the terry family. we have shown more than enough good faith, but the white house has chosen to invoke executive
privilege. that leaves us no other options. the only recourse left of the house is to continue seeking the truth and to hold attorney general in contempt of congress . now, i don't take this matter lightly, and i would frankly hope it would never come to this. the house's focus is on jobs and the economy, but no justice department is above the law and no justice department is above the constitution which each of us have sworn an oath to uphold. so i ask the members of this body to come together and to support this resolution so that we can seek the answers that the terry family and the american people deserve. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: let me just say
-- i yield myself one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. cummings: let me say in response to the speaker, we too are saddened by the death of border patrol agent brian terry who gave his life, service to his country on december 15, 2010. but, mr. speaker, despite -- but despite what my colleagues have claimed, this contempt vote is not about getting documents that show how gunwalking was initiated and utilized in operation fast and furious. the only documents in dispute are documents created fast and furious ended and after brian terry's death, but we pledge to continue to find all the answers with regard to the death of brian terry. with that i yield the distinguished gentleman from massachusetts, mr. lynch, two minutes, a member of the committee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from massachusetts is recognized for two minutes. mr. lynch: thank you, mr. speaker. i would add that we have 31 democrats that signed a letter to the department of justice
and to the white house in the aftermath of agent terry's death to fully cooperate in this investigation. however, i rise in strong opposition to this contempt resolution. while criticism of the department of justice for oversight of the so-called gun walking operation during both the bush administration and the current administration, criticism may be warranted, a finding of contempt against a sitting attorney general of the united states is most certainly not. and determining whether this house should hold our highest ranking national law enforcement officer in contempt of congress, let us remember that up until last week, the majority of our committee had been demanding the production of documents that our attorney general is legally prohibited from disclosing.
and that has caused much of the delay here. in other words, mr. holder would have broken the law and likely compromised existing criminal prosecutions if he adhered to the majority's unreasonable request for materials relating to ongoing criminal investigations, federal wiretap communications and under judicial seal and dumonts also subject to grand jury secrecy rules. let us also be mindful we are considering the extent of cooperation or noncooperation of an attorney general who has appeared before congress on nine separate occasions, whose justice department has produced over 7,600 pages of documents to oversight investigators and who continues to offer significant accommodations to extraordinary and ever-changing requests for information. the majority continues to deny any and all democratic requests to publicly question, under oath, law enforcement officials including former director of
the a.t.f. ken melson, the head of the very agency that held the gun walking operations such as fast and furious. it's clear that what began as a legitimate and compelling committee oversight investigation has deteriorated -- mr. cummings: i yield the gentleman 15 seconds. mr. lynch: in closing i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to oppose this contempt resolution and i yield the -- yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from california. mr. issa: i yield one minute to the gentleman from michigan, mr. walberg. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. walberg: there is no joy in today's action but the fact remains, 18 months after u.s. border patrol agent brian terry was murdered, the justice department has failed to hold anybody accountable for the mistakes of operation fast and furious.
as a member of the oversight and government reform committee, i have witnessed firsthand the stone wall big the department of their false d that they had ever let guns walk to mexico. to some on the other side of the aisle -- the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. mr. issa: i yield the gentleman 15 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. walberg: to some it seems fine that the people who authorized this operation still work in the department of justice. they would rather play politics rather than uphold congress' right to investigate. this is about making sure another 2,000 firearms don't end up in the hands of mexican drug cartels and it's about bringing closure to the terry family. i urge my colleagues to support this resolution and honor the memory of brian terry. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from m.d. mr. cummings: i yield to the distinguished gentleman from
m.d., mr. hoyer, four minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland, the minority whip, is recognized for four minutes. mr. hoyer: mr. speaker, this is a sad day for the house of representatives. it is an irresponsible day for the house of representatives. it is a day in which the majority party asked us to take an action that has never been taken in the history of america. never once holding a cabinet officer in contempt. of the -- in contempt of the congress. now there have been previous contempt citations. some promoted by democratic committees and some promoted by republican committees.
the average time between committee action and consideration on the floor of the house is 87 days. time to reflect on an extraordinarily important action. with consequences beyond the knowledge of anybody sitting here today. now i want to tell the chairman with all due respect, i think this investigation has been extraordinarily superficial. i think the chairman has failed to call witnesses that could in fact give relevant, cogent testimony. -- testimony on the issues to bear. that ought to be done. that is why i will strongly support the motion of the gentleman from michigan, mr. dingell, who has served here longer than any of the rest of us, and who is one of the strongest gun control rights supporters in this congress,
and what his motion says is, let us reflect, let us bring thoughtful judgment, let us not every time that there is the opportunity to choose confrontation over cooperation and consensus. that has been the history of this congress. competition over consensus every time. and america is suffering because of it. i ask my friends on the republican side of the aisle, who know me, to be a bipartisan member of this body. that believes in this institution. and who cares about its actions and the precedent they will set. don't do this. vote for this motion to refer. give the chairman they have opportunity he should have taken before to have a full
hearing, calling former attorney general mccasey, calling the former head of the a.t.f. calling agents who were personally involved in this proceeding. i venture to say that there are very few members who will vote on this issue who have read the committee proceedings. very few members who have read the minority report or the majority report. yet they are about to take a historic vote to do what has never been done by any congress, 111 congresses did not take this action. this is not about republicans or democrats. this is about our constitution. our country. our respect. for a nation of laws not of men. that's what this bill is about.
we ought not to be voting as republicans and democrats. we ought to be voting as americans. americans committed to justice and fair process. i regret that i do not believe this committee has followed that. i believe that the political motivations mind this resolution are clear and pose a clear and present danger to this nation. may i have 30 additional seconds? mr. mcgovern: i yield the gentleman 30 seconds. mr. hoyer: i thank the gentleman from massachusetts. when we vote on this referral, vote as americans, not as a partisan issue. you may have the attorney general in the future. it's not the question of the
party of the attorney general. it is the question of whether or not this congress is going to provide for equal treatment of all attorneys general. and all cabinet officers. let us vote for this motion to refer and give the committee the opportunity it should take. let us vote down this motion. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. mr. hoyer: let us vote down the motions for contempt. mr. speaker, i now yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. issa: mr. speaker, it is now my honor to yield one minute to the gentleman from arizona, an active participant and from the district from which this event sprung, mr. go czar. -- mr. gosar.
mr. gosar: finding the attorney general in contempt of congress is long overdue, welcome news for the merp people and especially for arizonans. as i explained, mr. holder has shown his contempt and utter disdain for our constitutional rights, our border, arizonans and all americans. 115 members of congress agree that americans lack confidence in mr. holder and his department. every member of congress should do their constitutional duty and hold the attorney general in contempt today. the people of arizona, california, new mexico, and texas who deal with the unsecure borders and violent mexican cartels on a regular basis now must also live in fear of the firearms. some have said these charges against attorney general eric holderer racially motivated and i couldn't disagree more. the violent cartels armed by our government have no regard for party i.d. or race. throughout our nation and specifically in arizona, folks are all political parties and all races are now living in
danger of this lethal violence due to the actions of this administration. make no mistakes about it, today's vote is to deliver justice and accountability for the brian terry family and the over 300 mexicans who have died as a result of fast and furious. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has ex-priored. mr. cummings: i yield the gentleman from m.d. 30 second. mr. hoyer: in 2009, our speaker stood on this floor outraged about the process. we, too, areout raged about the process. we will not stand for this. i would ask my house republican colleagues and those who believe we should be , protecting our constitution, not vote on this bill, let's just get up and leave. my colleagues may well follow that advice. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has
expired. the gentleman from california. mr. issa: i yield myself 10 seconds. i have no doubt the gentleman will walk off the floor but his motion is asking us also to delay into an election getting an answer for the terry family. i know that is not the wise course and i stongly support that we do this today and with that, i yield one minute to the gentleman from idaho, mr. labrador. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. labrador. -- mr. labrador: i stand with a heavy heart in support of this resolution of contempt. it puts us one step closer to holding the attorney general accountable. he has not only failed to produce relevant dumont -- dock yulet, he has misled this congress and prevented us from uncovering the truth. how can the members of the minority say that an investigation is superficial when we don't even have all the
documents? when the attorney general was before the committee on oversight last year, i brought to light his historical pattern of willful ignorance, high temperaturing his lack of knowledge under oath. he knows nothing, he says nothing, and he seeks for nothing. never in my life have i met a man more unconcerned with the search for the truth. i have sense become even more disturbed by the depths to which mr. holder and his alryes -- allies will sink to stone wall justice. yes, this is an uns prekented day, i agree with you. but not until now have we had an attorney general have to retract so many statements made to the congress of the united states, the duly elected representatives of the people of the united states. let us vote to support this motion for contempt and i yield back my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: may i inquire how much time both sides have? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from m.d. has -- from
maryland has 6 1/4 minutes remain, the gentleman from california has 11 1/4 minutes remaining. mr. cummings: i grant to mrs. maloney two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes. mrs. maloney: mr. speaker, the family of brian terry deserves our respect, our condolences and our best efforts to finish the mission, to put an end to gun violence on the southern border. but instead of going after gun violence, this investigation has gone after the man that tried to stop the gun violence, the attorney general. chairman issa has acknowledged that attorney general holder did not know about the gunwalking operation. he has acknowledged that the president and the white house did not know about the gunwalking operation. both the white house and the
attorney general have acknowledge that the gunwalking operation was a tragic mistake, that it was badly executed and that it originated under the brucks -- under the bush administration. it was attorney general holder that terminated the program and requested an extensive investigation of the operation and how it was conducted. and the documents that they are now requesting in this vast and -- in this fast and furious investigation have absolutely nothing to do with gunwalking. if they were really interested in discovering the truth, the committee would have called kenneth nelson, head of the a.t.f., as a witness. the chairman refused 10 requests for mr. melson. the republicans have not granted one single democratic
witness request in 16 months, not one. this is not about discovering the truth. this is about politics. this has become an obsessive political vendetta for pursuing a political agenda in a season of ugly politics. if they were serious about ending gun violence, they would do what many a.t.f. agents have suggested and put some teeth in the law and that is why i authored with my colleagues a bill to make gun trafficking a federal offense and strengthen penalties for straw purchases. this unprecedented contempt citation is politics at its worse and why this body is held in such low esteem. mr. issa: i ask the statement by the terry family be placed
in the record at this time. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, it will be placed in the record. mr. issa: i'm sure the gentlelady from new york recognizes the right of a minority hearing has not been exercised and that would have been answered the questions as they are well aware of bringing kenneth melson before the committee. they did not exercise their right. with that i yield a minute to the gentleman from florida, the senior member of the committee, mr. mica. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida is recognized for one minute. mr. mica: thank you for yielding. when the founding fathers created our government and established the committees in congress, that authorizing committees -- they had authorizing committees, they had appropriating committees. the predecessor of this committee was established for a fundamental reason and that's to make certain that programs and funding were properly executed and used by agencies created by congress. congress created the law that
created the department of justice. congress funded the programs that are under the department of justice. it's our responsibility to investigate when things go wrong, and things went wrong. an agent of the united states was murdered with weapons which were funded by the agency that we created. all we have asked for is the documents. all we want are the facts, and we have been thwarted. eric holder, attorney general of the united states, the highest judicial enforcement officer of the united states, has been in contempt, is in contempt and is showing contempt for the congress and the responsibility under the constitution of this important committee of congress. i urge adoption of the contempt resolution against the attorney general. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: mr. speaker, i grant the gentleman from california, mr. schiff, two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the
gentleman from california is recognized for two minutes. mr. schiff: i thank the gentleman for yielding and i rise in strong opposition to these contempt resolutions. i spent six years as an assistant u.s. attorney and i have greated a mir mation and respect for the hardworking men and women of the department. i have great respect for our attorney general who i think has been a superb attorney general and is a man of integrity. i like most americans would like to know about the facts of fast and furious, about the problem of guns crossing our border, the horrendous violence south of our border, but what we do today will shed no light on that. what we do today will not improve the situation in terms of gun violence that's claimed the lives of 10's of thousands of -- tens of thousands of mexican citizens and claimed the lives of americans. what we are doing today is simply a partisan abuse of the contempt power. 13% of the american people think highly of congress and to
date those 13% are wondering why. what we do will cause no injury to the department, but it will cause great injury to this house. the justice department, after providing 8,000 documents and extensive testimony, is now being required to turn over privileged materials. and like all administrations before it, it has reluctantly used the executive privilege to respectfully refuse to provide materials it cannot provide. and so now here we are bringing a contempt motion against the attorney general which our committee chairman acknowledges was not aware of fast and furious. they don't expect any documents to show you about fast and furious and yet we are going to hold this cabinet officials in contempt? that is an outrageous abuse of the contempt power. what will happen when this congress actually needs to use the contempt power for
legitimate purpose? will anyone still recognize it? i urge the speaker to withtraw this motion as indeed speaker gingrich withdrew the motion in his stay and let the parties work this out. we both know, democrats and republicans, how this will end. it will end months from now. let's end this partisan exercise now. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. mr. schiff: i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california. mr. issa: i yield myself 15 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for 15 seconds. mr. issa: i respect my colleague from california. we came into congress together some 12 years ago, but the fact is he talked everything except the fact that congress was lied to in a letter. 10 months went by. we're only asking for information about the false statements made to congress during there intervening period
and nothing more. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. mr. issa: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: i yield to the leader, ms. pelosi, 30 seconds. one minute. sorry. the speaker pro tempore: the minority leader is recognized. ms. pelosi: i thank you, mr. speaker. i thank the gentleman for yielding. i commend him for his extraordinary patriotism, for his commitment to upholding our oath of office to protect and defend the constitution and for recognizing full well the congressional role of oversight of all branches of government. i think we all share that view that congress has a legitimate role to play in oversight and thus your committee has so much jurisdiction and i respect that. i think we all also agree -- i
think we all very, very much agree that we are very sad and seek justice for the family of border patrol agent brian terry . his loss is a tragedy for all who knew him, for all of us who care about him and we offer our condolences to his family. so sad. but that's not what we're here to debate. what we agree upon. what we're here to debate is something very, very large because it is a major disagreement between the two sides of the aisle here, and i'm sorry to say that, about what our responsibilities are to the constitution of the united states. the constitution says -- it
requires congress and the gleck tif branch to avoid unnecessary -- gleck tif branch to avoid unnecessary conflict and seek accommodations that serves both interests. that's how the constitution guides us. as attorney general william smith who served under president ronald reagan said, the accommodation required is not simply an exchange of concessions or a test of political strength. it is an obligation of each branch to take -- to make a principled effort to acknowledge and if possible to meet the legitimate needs of the other branch. mr. speaker, on the floor today , the republicans in congress are not taking a principled -- making a principled effort to acknowledge or meet the
legitimate needs of the other branch. what they are doing is exploiting a very unfortunate circumstance for reasons that i cannot even characterize so i won't, but i will say this. without any fear of contradiction, the premise -- the basic premise that this debate is predicated on today is a false premise. it's factually not true. how many more ways can i say that? and so we have a debate predicated on a false premise and what can that lead to that has any good outcome? it is a situation where we have a contempt of congress resolution against a sitting cabinet member which is the first time in the over 200-year
history of our country that this has ever happened. again, what is the motivation? secondly -- and that's why i quoted the constitution -- this motion is not a principled effort to resolve the issue. if it were we would not be able to measure in hours and days, not even weeks, rush the railroading of a resolution of a contempt of congress that the republicans passed last week and are bringing this week to the house floor. i say this because i took considerable heat myself when we brought contempt charges against two staff people at the white house. josh bolten and harriet miers 4 1/2 years ago.
we were asking for some papers. we got nothing. as i say to my friends, not even a wrapper off of a piece of gum. nothing. stonewall. nothing. and yet our chairman at the time of the judiciary committee, mr. conyers, and our house leadership, mr. hoyer and others, kept saying, find a way . exhaust every remedy so that we do not have to take this action of bringing a contempt charge to the floor of the house. for over 200 years -- 200 days -- for over 200 days we tried, we tried, we tried to resolve the situation. and when we could not we brought it to the floor, two staff people at the white
house. in stark contrast to the rush of one week to the next, not even factual charge against the attorney general of the united states. it may just be a coincidence. i don't know. that the attorney general of the united states, the chief legal officer of the country, have the responsibility to fight voter suppression, which is going on in our country, that he has refused to defend the constitutionality of doma because he doesn't believe it's constitutional or has major disagreements on immigration which falls under -- enforcement of immigration law. and may just be a coincidence that those are part of his responsibilities.
or maybe it isn't. but the fact is that the chief legal officer of our country, and his staff, have to spend enormous energy, psychic, intellectual, and time, dealing , dealing with this unprincipled effort on the part of the republicans. just when you think you have seen it all, just when you think they couldn't possibly go any further over the edge, they come up with something like this. it's stunning. it really is. and i don't mean that as in it's beautiful. it's stunning. it stops you in your tracks. you say how far will they go? have they no limits? apparently not.
and so the temptation is to say , let's just ignore the whole thing. do not dignify what they are doing by even being present on the floor and they do -- when they do this heinous act. first time in the history of our country to bring a contempt against the cab -- against a cabinet officer. you would think they'd be more careful about what they say, but being careful about what they say is aparently not part of their agenda. and so i know in our caucus, there's a mixed response to this. they're acting politically, we should act politically. we shouldn't vote on this, i want to vote no. i think members have to make their own decision about that. i'm very moved by the -- i'm
very moved by the efforts of our congressional black caucus to say that they're going to walk out on this. walk out on this. and perhaps that's the best approach for us to take. how else can we impress upon the american people without scaring them about what is happening here? what is happening here? what is happening here? it's shameful. what is happening here is something we all have an obligation to speak out against. because i'm telling you, it's eric holder today, it's anybody else tomorrow, any charge they can drum up. and the fact is, and has been
said, the fact is that the papers that they have seen, they know are exculpatory. that means there's no blame on the attorney general. and they know that. and that's why they don't want to bring those responsible for this before their committee and that's why i commend chairman dingell for his leadership and the motion he will bring to the floor momentarily, a motion of referral. so that we can get to the bottom of this. so that we can see how this happens. so that we can offer some solace to brian terry's family. and so that we can have some sense of decency about what should happen on the floor of
the house and when it goes -- it seems to me the more baseless the charge, the higher up they want to go with the contempt. the less they have to say that is real, the higher up they want to bring the contempt charge. i have always tried to make it a habit of not questioning the motivation of people. they believe what they believe. we believe what we believe. and we act upon our beliefs. it always interested me that in this congress somebody can bring something to the floor that is not true, but if i were to call someone a misrepresenter of that information, my words would be taken down. so i guess that gives them
liberty to say anything. because it's in the form of a motion. but let's make sure that we all take responsibility for doing the right thing by not letting there be an abuse of power and a-- an abuse of this floor of the house and an abuse of the time of the exec tiff branch and abuse of a -- of the time of a member of the cabinet who has serious responsibilities to our country. i urge my colleagues to do what they want as far as walking off. i, myself, had said i was coming to this floor to vote against this resolution. i thought it was so wrong that there was no question to take the opportunity to vote no. but listening to the debate,
almost unbelievable, not that what they're saying is believable but unbelievable that they would say it. so now i say to those who have a doubt about how they want to proceed that instead of doing what i said before, which was just to come and to treat this as an act of -- a bill before the congress a resolution before the congress and express my no, listening to the unconscionable presentation, i want to join my c.b.c. colleagues in boycotting the vote when we have the walkout after the debate over mr. dingell's -- we all take our responsibility seriously here. one of them, first and foremost, is support, uphold and defend the constitution of the united states. that constitution requires the congress and the executive branch, i'll end as i began, to
avoid unnecessary conflict and seek accommodation to serve both interests, the executive branch and the legislative branch. we are not upholding that aspect of the constitution. i urge my colleagues to vote no, or no vote. but to seriously reject and let's hope that this will not be repeted. but i'm telling you, if eric hold -- it's eric holder one day, you don't know who it is the next because of the frivolousness with which they treat a serious responsibility of the house of representatives. it's appalling. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields back her time. the gentleman from california. mr. issa: as i know the former speaker of the house knows, the attorney general is being hold in contempt as the custodian of the records for refusing to
deliver them, not because we got to choose how far up or not up we got to go. with that, i recognize the gentleman from utah, mr. chaffetz, for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. chaffetz: thank you, mr. speaker. leader pelosi seriously questioned our motivations here. let me be crystal clear what my motivation is. we have a dead united states agent. meff more than -- we have more than 200 dead people in mexico. we have more than 2,000 weapons knowingly, willfully given to the drug cartels. more than 1,000 of those weapons are still missing. most of them are ak-47's. we have a duly issued subpoena that has not been responded to. on february 4, 2011, on department of justice letterhead they presented a letter that was a lie. it took them nine to 10 months to provide that information to say, whoops, sorry. that's not good enough. this is not about eric holder. this is about the department of justice and justice in the united states of america.
and i would, hen back to the june 3, 2011 letter that 31 democrats, brave democrats, sent to the white house. i read part of this. quote, it is equally troubling, remember, this is over a year ago, it is equally troubling that the department of justice has delayed action and withheld information from congressional inquiry, end quote. you went on to say, quote, while the department of justice can and should continue its investigation, those activities should not curtail the ability of congress to fulfill its oversight duty. we urge you to instruct the department of justice to promptly provide complete answers to all congressional -- mr. issa: i yield the gentleman 15 seconds. mr. chaffetz: nothing has changed in over a year but i can tell you this, brian terry doesn't have answers you don't have answers, i don't have answers. i want all the factings. that's what we're asking for today, the facts, all of them. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired.
the gentleman from m.d. is recognized. mr. cummings: i reed mind the gentleman that all this started under president george bush. i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california. mr. issa: i recognize myself for 10 seconds. the distinguished gentleman can have his opinion but not his facts. fast and furious began under president obama and attorney general holder. i trust the gentleman would no longer make statements that are untrue. mr. cummings: i yield myself 15 seconds. again, the gentleman puts out statements in search of facts. i reserve. the chair: the gentleman from california. mr. issa: i yield one minute to mr. burton of indiana. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. burton: there's been a lot of hyperbole and a lot of repetition but a lot of things that have been said haven't
been factual. brian terry was murdered. hundreds of people have been murdered in mexico with guns that went across the border. the justice department said in february of 2011, they had no knowledge about this. 10 months later, they admitted they lied. now, they said they didn't know and then they said they said they did. i don't know what you call that but to me it's a lie. then chairman issa tried again and again to get information so we could get to the bottom of this like the 32 democrats wanted and they refused. he sent subpoenas. they refused. they hid behind this being an ongoing investigation and they couldn't give those dumonts. -- documents. we got a fraction of the documents that should have been given to us. but they wouldn't do that. issa met with the attorney general's people to try to come to some conclusion, some kind of resolution of this. so we wouldn't have to move the contempt citation.
nothing. absolutely nothing. and then finally, at the 11th hour, when we knew that we were going to have to move with the contempt citation, the president of the united states issues an executive order claiming executive privilege. something funny -- mr. issa: i yield the gentleman 30 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. burton: something is wrong. something is being hidden from the congress and the american people. and no matter how much is being said here tonight, the fact of the matter is, we aren't getting the information. a border patrol agent has been killed, maybe two. hundreds of people have been killed in mexico with american guns that our government knew were going across that border and the attorney general has not been giving us the information, the justice department has been hiding it from the congress of the american people and the president has claimed executive privilege. if that doesn't tell you something, nothing will. i yield back.
the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expire. the gentleman from m.d. -- mr. maryland. mr. cummings: i reserve. mr. issa: how much time is remaining. the chair: the gentleman from -- the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california has 6 1/2 minutes remain, the gentleman from maryland has 1 1/4 minutes remaining. mr. issa: i ask unanimous consent to place inta the record letters dated may 24, 2012, may 30, 2012, and june 1, 2012, to -- all addressed to elijah cummings, ranking member of the committee. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, they will appear in the record. mr. issa: thank you, mr. speaker. i now yield to the gentleman from oklahoma, mr. lankford, one munn. -- one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. lankford: this is a duly sad day. this is not stunning, as i've heard.
this is a deliberative process that we tried to work through. we have a border agent that's been killed. we have hundreds of mexicans that have been killed. and the fingerprints on all that go straight back to an operation that was done by the federal government. this is a moment to get all the facts, to get it on the table, find out what happened and to get it done. we started with a subpoena process over 22 different categories. we narrowed that down to one. how do we get the documents from the time of february 4 of last year, when the department of justice told us one thing, and december, when they said, oops, and change thared story. we found out they had not told us the truth and in that time period when they staaled, staaled, staaled tissue when they stalled, stalled, stalled, we just want the information on that. how did this occur? this is essential because phoenix a.t.f. had a plan, fast and furious. it was abriveed the u.s. attorney in that area and went up the food chain to department of justice where it was signed off. this is not irrelevant.
this is essential that we know the process of how this was done. if we're going to fix this problem, we've got to know the facts. instead they're being withheld. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expire. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california. mr. issa: mr. speaker, point of inquiry, do i have the right to close? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california has the right to close. mr. issa: i reserve my right to close. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: do you have any more speakers? mr. issa: no, i do not. mr. cummings: mr. speaker, as the democratic leader said, there's no doubt that the constitution gives congress the right and responsibility to investigate, but the constitution also requires something else. it requires congress and the executive branch to avoid unnecessary conflict and
deceit, accommodations that serve both of their interests. in this case the attorney general has testified nine times. he's provided thousands of pages of documents. he's provided 13 pages of deliberative internal document and he's willing to provide even more to meet the recent demands of chairman issa. but house republican leaders are not honoring their constitutional obligations. in fact, they are running in the wrong direction as quickly as possible. it's fundamentally wrong to vote in favor of this resolution at this time when the attorney general has been working with the house in good faith. i believe this action will undermine the standing of the house, will cement the speaker's legacy and will be recorded by history as a discredit to this institution. with that i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back his time. the gentleman from california. mr. issa: i recognize myself for such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for as much time as he may consume.
mr. issa: mr. speaker, there's been a lot talked about here about documents that the attorney general couldn't give us. these documents, documents under seal would be an example of documents that we should not see except encamera and we have taken great care to ensure that no one outside members of congress and key staff have ever looked at them. but i've looked at them, and what i know is that these documents read by any person of ordinary learning make it very clear that these wiretap applications read and signed by individuals in the department of justice in washington, you read them, you now they were gunwalking. people will tell you
differently. i give you my word, you read this, you know they were letting guns go to mexico. they knew who the buyers were, who the intermediaries were, who the recipients were and most importantly where they ended up. and this was part of evidence given to judges in order to get wiretaps, they were evidence -- there were evidence that they knew that in fact weapons had already ended up in mexico. that's before brian terry was killed. that's where fast and furious could have been stopped. that's where people could have been warned. in fact, that's -- at a time which a.t.f. agents in mexico city, if they punched in the serial number of a weapon found there, they got an erroneous, an error. they didn't get meaningful information because that was being blocked, not by a.t.f., per se, but by the department of justice under the auspices of the u.s. attorney and his bosses. now, you're going to hear this
began under president bush. attorney general mukasey. i am going to tell you that's just false. what happened in previous administrations with some of the same local a.t.f. agents was they exercised extremely bad judgment. they did things and pushed on programs that i believe were poorly conceived and poorly manned and as a result they lost track of weapons repeatedly. that happened. and it was wrong. the u.s. attorney at the time even declined prosecutions because of failed techniques. all of these were shut down during the bush administration. president bush can take no credit for it. he didn't know it. as far as i know the attorney general didn't know. and anyone who saw the record of that should say, this was wrong-minded. but during this administration, during the time in which the attorney general and his key lieutenants, including lanny
bruer, were in charge they reopened the prosecutions from a failed program called wide receiver and they opened fast and furious. now, i'm the second child in a family. i have an older brother, and i learned at a very young age you in fact cannot when you do something wrong say, my brother, billy, did it. it doesn't work that way. you're responsible what you do. this happened under the attorney general's watch. but that's not why we're here today. we're here because when we asked legitimate questions about brian terry's murder, about fast and furious, we were lied to. we were lied to repeatedly and over a 10-month period. the fact is that is what we're here for. the american people want to know if you give false testimony to congress and the minority leader talked about
why is there such a hurry. why was there 10 months' delay? i was sworn in just a few days before this investigation began, and now we're nearing an election and we don't want to have this during an election. we want resolution for the terry family. the important thing is we know enough to know that we have people who have told us under pement of criminal prosecution they have told congress and their employees -- penalty of criminal prosecution they have told congress and their employees certain documents exist. we asked for those document and we were denied them. we can't bring kenneth melson here in good faith. if in fact there are documents he says exist, and they do and they will not be given to us, we want to have those so we can ask the best questions. you heard earlier that in fact we denied somehow due process to the minority. my ranking member's very
capable and has for minority days, meetings exclusively for him, and he didn't do it. when we had a.t.f. and other individuals early on all of whom worked for this government, he didn't ask any. it wasn't until he asked the attorney general to come in based on these false statements and final retraction that he suddenly wanted a previous attorney general who happened to say, no, i don't want to come. so on that particular day we would have had to subpoena him to get him in. i have no objection to having the former attorney general in. i believe that on his watch and his predecessor's watch and his predecessor's watch and for a very long time we have not done a good job of overseeing the actions of field agents when it comes to guns. but, again, we're here today for the first time in over 200 years to deal with an attorney general who has flat refused to give the information related to lies and a cover-up exclusively
within his jurisdiction. lies and a cover-up exclusively in his jurisdiction. that's what we're voting on. i urge an aye vote on the contempt on behalf of the terry family. the speaker pro tempore: all time for debate has expired. for what purpose does the gentleman from michigan seek recognition? mr. dingell: i have a motion at the clerk's desk. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: motion to refer house resolution 711. mr. dingell of michigan moves to refer the resolution, house resolution 711, to the committee on oversight and government reform with instructions to, one, hold a bipartisan public hearing with testimony from kenneth melson, the former acting director of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives during operation fast and furious. two, hold a bipartisan public hearing with testimony from william hoover, the former acting deputy director of the
bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives during operation fast and furious. three, hold a bipartisan public hearing with testimony from the former attorney general, michael mukasey who, according to documents produced to the committee, was informed during his tenure that although efforts to coordinate firearm interdictions with mexican law enforcement officials in 2007 have not been successful, the a.t.f. would like to expand such efforts. four, conduct a bipartisan transcribed interview of ellis fisher who served as the assistant attorney general for the criminal division of the department of justice from 2005 to 2008, about her role in authorizing wiretaps in operation wide receiver. five, conduct a bipartisan transcribed interview of kenneth blanco who serves as deputy assistant attorney general at the department of justice and also authorized
wiretaps in operation fast and furious. six, take such further actions as the committee with bull bipartisan consultation deems -- full bipartisan consultation deems appropriate a full investigation of this matter. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to house resolution 708, the gentleman from michigan, mr. dingell, and the gentleman from -- the gentleman opposed, each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from michigan. mr. dingell: i yield myself four minutes and ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized and without objection, so ordered. mr. dingell: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise to offer this motion to refer so this investigation can focus on the real issues at hand and to get the facts. i begin by expressing my respect and affection for the chairman of the committee, mr. issa, and i want to see a proper investigation, the facts gotten about serious misbehavior and utter incompetence at the bureau of
alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives, called the a.t.f. this is a tragedy. i have had the entirety of the motion read so that we could understand what a real investigation is. i didn't roll off the cabbage wagon yesterday, mr. speaker. i chaired committees for over 20 or 30 years, and i have conducted more investigations than any man in this particular body. it is clear that the events here were characterized by dishonest, evasive and deceitful activities on the part of a.t.f. personnel. i want to find out what has happened. this is not the first time i've crossed swords with a.t.f., and this is not the first time i have found them engaged in shameful, illegal and improper behavior. in one instance, i caught them raiding the home of an individual. they shot him in the brain and they pitched his wife in her
underpants out in the hall. operation fast and furious was a highly irresponsible operation that never should have occurred. people on both sides of this aisle agree to that. the american people want the answers, and they deserve to have a proper, thorough and bipartisan investigation that gets them the truth. my constituent, brian terry, wants the truth. from the grave. and his family asks that we get the truth. and with god as my judge, they deserve it and they shall have it if i can get it for them. i chaired scores of investigations and hearings over 50 years on wrongdoing which collected hundreds of millions of dollars wrongfully taken from our people and have caught more than a few serious wrongdoers who paid proper penalties for their wrongdoings. these investigations were always bipartisan with both sides of the aisle actively participating and fully
informed. the actions of the committee were unanimously conducted and supported by members on both sides of the aisle. what we see before us does not follow that model, and it brings no respect to this body. as someone who holds the institution here in the highest regard, i find this to be most troubling. instead of going after the real answers and getting the facts about what has happened at a.t.f., the majority of the committee has engaged in what appears to be a partisan political witch-hunt with the attorney general as his target. over the 16-month investigation, democrats were not permitted to call a single witness to testify. so much for bipartisanship. the american people deserve better than this, mr. speaker. they deserve a legitimate inquiry based on facts and which all members of this body can support. now, this is not a second
amendment question. i have defended the second amendment more than any member of this body, and i am the past member of the board of directors at n.r.a. and a life member of that body. we deserve and the american people deserve a legitimate inquiry based on the facts. it seems to me there is a simple way to resolve this dispute. first, adopt a resolution. second, see to it that the attorney general produces the documents that are currently at issue. and i will actively support the gentleman in seeing to it that those facts and those documents are presented. second, the house republicans should giva good faith commitment to work towards resolving the contempt fight. if the document in fact are consistent with the attorney general's testimony, he -- that he never authorized or approved or knew about gunwalking, then i think we should consider the
matter of contempt resolved. if those documents -- the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. mr. dingell: reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from california. mr. issa: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself one minute. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentleman claim time in opposition? mr. issa: i claim time in opposition. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. issa: i thank the speaker. i respect the gentleman from michigan, the dean of the house. but he's just wrong. there were plenty of opportunities for the minority to ask for witnesses, they chose not to except at one hearing, and then they asked for the former attorney general. they did not avail themselveses of the procedures to allow themselves to have a hearing. more importantly, when you say you represent brian terry, you do not. the terry family issued this statement which i ask unanimous consent to be placed in the record. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. issa: among the statements are, referring to congressman
dingell, his views don't represent the views of the terry family and he has never spoken to the ferry -- terry family. his office sent us a condolence letter when brian terry was buried 18 months ago, that's the last time we heard from him. third a year agoing after the oversight and government reform committee began its work, one of brian terry's sisters called representative dingell's office seeking answers, no one called back. fourth, if representative dingell wants to support -- i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expire. the gentleman reserves his time. the gentleman reserves his time they have gentleman from michigan. mr. dingell: i was aware of this. i have communicated with the
family and my office is setting up a meeting with the terry family as soon as i can get back to michigan. my motion here would ensure that the witnesses the minority has requested, including the former director of ample t.f. during the time of this operation are called for a full, open, public hearing to assure that the american people get the whole story. i am not here solely representing the interests of the terry family, i'm here representing the interests of the whole country and all of the -- i do not yield to the gentleman. and all the 800,000 people i serve in the 15th district of michigan. as i have said on a number of cases in the last year, congress has two choices in their decision make, we can work together and get something done or play political football. i choose to get something done which is why i have offered a resolution and if you had listened to what i have had read by the clerk, you will observe that it says, we want a
thorough, full, bipartisan investigation. that's the way the matter should be done. members on this side will support the findings of that investigation if the chairman of that committee will permit this kind of undertaking to be begun. i would observe a very interesting fact. the contempt resolution is going to yield the same instructions to the same fellow who is under contempt. he will simply put it in his pocket and we will find that this body has no fourth -- further deal wgs the executive branch. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california. mr. issa: i yield time to the gentleman from south carolina, an experienced prosecutor, to close. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. >> this is a sad day, mr.
speaker, for those of us who respect the rule of law, for those of us who work for the dotcht justice, for those of us who believe the same rules apply to everyone, whether they live simple lives of peace and quiet or whether they live and work in the towers of power, prestige and authority, the same rules apply to everyone. mr. gowdy: it is the greatness of this country, mr. speaker, it is the greatness, the elegance, the simplicity of a woman who is blindfolded, holding nothing but a celt of scales and a sword. the chief law enforcement official for this country is on the eve of being held in contempt of congress because he refuses to follow the law. he refuses to allow congress to find the truth. the whole truth. for those of you who want a negotiation, a compromise, an extraordinary accommodation, to use the attorney general's words, for those of you who want a plea bargain, my
question to you is simply this, when you settle for 75% of the truth is 50% -- will you settle for 75% of the truth? is 50% of the truth enough for you? a third? or do you want it all. if you want all the truth, you want all the documents. if you've ever sat dun with a parent who has lost a child, who has been murdered. and some of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have been there. it is a humbling, emotional life-altering experience. all they want is the truth. they want answers, they want justice and they don't want part of it. they want all of it. and i will not compromise, mr. speaker, when it comes to finding the truth. congress is right to pursue this, no matter where it takes us. no matter which administration was in power and no matter what
the facts are, we are right to pursue this. and we are wrong if we settle for anything less than all the facts. to my colleagues who are voting no, mr. speaker, let me ask this, can you tell me, can you tell the american people, why the department of justice approved this lethal, fatally flawed operation? to those of you vote nothing, can you tell the american people how the tactic of gunwalking was sanctioned. to those of you who are voting no, can you tell brian terry's family and friends how a demonstrably false letter was written on department of justice letterhead on february 4 and where would we be if we accepted that letter at face value? a letter written on department of justice letterhead. that is not just another political cabinet agency. it is emblematic of what we stand for as a country, truth,
justice, the equal application of law to everyone. that letter was written on america's station for the. -- stationery. it was dead wrong. where would we be if we took their word for it? our fellow citizens have a right to know the truth and we have an obligation to fight for it. mr. speaker, the politics be damned. we have a right to fight for it. i wish the attorney general would give us the documents. i would rather have the documents than have this vote on contempt of congress. but we cannot force him to do the right thing if that does not -- and that does not relieve us of the responsibility to do the right thing. even if the heavens may fall, mr. speaker, i want the truth, i want all of it, we should never settle for less of -- less than all of it. and we have to start today.
the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. all time for debate on the motion has expired. pursuant to house resolution 708 the previous question is ordered on the motion. the question is on adoption of the motion. aye a aye -- those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it. mr. dingell: on that, i request the yeas and nays. the speaker pro tempore: the yeas and nays are requested. those in favor of a vote by the yeas and nays will rise and be counted. a sufficient number having risen, the yeas and nays are ordered. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a 15-minute vote. this will be followed by five-minute votes on the motion to recommit, if offered, adoption of the resolution, if ordered, motion to suspend h.r. 4017, if ordered, motion to
suspend h.r. 4173, if ordered. this is a 15-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]
those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair the ayes have it. the ayes have it. without objection, the motion to reconsider -- for what purpose does the gentleman from new york rise? >> i ask for a recorded vote. the speaker pro tempore: a recorded vote is requested. those in favor of the request for a recorded vote will rise and be downed. a sufficient number having risen, a recorded vote is ordered. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a five-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]
the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. >> mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? >> mr. speaker, pursuant to house resolution 708, i call up house resolution 706. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the resolution. the clerk: house resolution 706, resolution authorizing the committee on oversight and government reform to initiate or intervene in judicial proceed togs enforce certain subpoenas. the speaker pro tempore:
pursuant to house resolution 708, the resolution is considered read. the gentleman from california, mr. issa, and the gentleman from maryland, mr. cummings, each will control 10 minutes. chair recognizes the gentleman from california. mr. issa: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, the house is not in order. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is correct. the gentleman may proceed. mr. issa: thank you, mr. speaker. i now yield three minutes to the gentleman from california, mr. lungren. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized for three minutes. mr. lungren: mr. speaker, we've just had a very important vote and some would ask what this second vote is about. this second vote is a simple authorization for the committee involved to be able to essentially hire council that would allow us to go into court to seek a decollartory judgment
by the federal court to enforce the subpoenas that have been presented by this committee to the attorney general of the united states. it's a simple, straightforward resolution. why is it important? one of our obligations under the constitution is to provide oversight of the executive branch. there are those on this -- in this body who have been here and engaged in debate with respect to important items such as the patriot act and fisa. and one of the things we have attempted to assure our constituents was that we would ensure that the constitutional rights of americans would not be trampled upon as we carry out the appropriate -- appropriate responsibility of protecting this country and our constituents against terrorist attacks. that requires us to provide active oversight over the
executive branch. similarly in this case we have an obligation to stand in the shoes of those we represent, to oversee the operations of the executive branch, in this case the department of justice, to ensure that they are following the law. one manner in which that can be frustrated is by a department, in this case the department of justice, that refuses to respond to lawful subpoenas and give us the information so that we can do that oversight. that is what we were talking about. this congress, this house of representatives, was misled. i don't know what it was -- whether it was intentional or not. i do know we were misled by a representation from the justice department in official response to an inquiry by the congress of the united states. that was not corrected for 10 months. you can look at it a couple of
ways. one is that there was an attempt to slow-walk the congress so it could not carry out its constitutional responsibility. there's a lot of talk on this floor by both democrats and republicans as to how we have an obligation to oversee the executive branch. in fact, one of the genius points of our founding fathers' constitution is that conflict between or among the three branches of government, that natural tension. but that natural tension cannot exist and we cannot do that which we are called upon under the constitution to do faithfully if we are denied information to oversee the operations of the department of justice. all we are doing -- mr. issa: i'd ask the gentleman have an additional 30 seconds. mr. lungren: all we are doing simply is asking the authorization so that this committee can have the
representation of council to see that these subpoenas are carried out. since we have been given every sense from the justice department that it would be folly in a sense to suggest that they would carry out the actions that we just voted upon against the attorney general, this is the method by which we can achieve that which we are required to do, that is to carry out oversight responsibility against the executive department, including the department of justice. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: i yield two minutes to the gentlelady from the district of columbia, ms. norton. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from the district of columbia is recognized for two minutes. ms. norton: i thank the gentleman for yielding. i have come back from walking out of this proceeding to address this serious baseless charge of coverup. no one in the majority has been able to charge that the attorney general or his top lieutenants
knew about the gunwalking initiated in the bush administration because there is no evidence of that, after 16 months of investigation. this contempt resolution stems from a letter from the department correcting the record , the record from a letter written in the legislative affairs part of the justice department that there was no gunwalking. that letter relied on statements of a.t.f. officials and justice department officials who this justice department then fired and did its own investigation. what you have is contempt for correcting the record. this is the opposite of a coverup. but it is alleged. if the department has nothing to
hide it would simply turn over everything in its possession. the other side has gone so far to say that when the president invoked executive privilege he too was implicated in a coverup. but the supreme court itself has said that while the privilege is not absolute and here i am quoting, human experience teaches that those who expect public dissemination of their remarks may well temper candor with concern for appearances. thus presidents have repeatedly asserted executive privilege to protect confidential executive branch deliberative materials from congressional subpoena. the last leg of this weak weed of contempt is -- could i have another 30 seconds? mr. cummings: i grant the lady another 30 seconds. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. norton: is that the president asserted executive
privilege too late. why not from the beginning? the president, like every president before him, did not assert the privilege until negotiations broke down, but the committee proceeded without even examining the basis for the privilege as prior chairs have done. it is the most irresponsible allegation of this debate, because no evidence for coverup has been submitted. this subpoena is so partisan and political that i expect any court to view just what our committee should have done, to compel the parties to sit down to negotiate. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. the gentleman from california. mr. issa: thank you, mr. speaker. it's amazing that people would say there's no evidence of a coverup when somebody says, no, we didn't do what we did, and then hides for an additional 10 months. by any normal american standard, that would be a coverup. with that i recognize the gentleman from texas, mr. farenthold, for two minutes.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized for two minutes. mr. farenthold: thank you, mr. chairman. i rise today in support of the motion for criminal -- i'm sorry, for civil contempt. so we can get an attorney to proceed. normally under contempt what happens is we vote like we just did to hold someone in contempt and it's turned over to the department of justice, in fact, the u.s. attorney for the district of columbia, to pursue in district court. unfortunately the u.s. attorney is an employee and reports to the attorney general who was just found in contempt and we are concerned, i am concerned, that past history of stonewalling and delays, that are associated with getting us information and cooperating with us, on fast and furious, will continue and in fact there will be no prompt prosecution of the contempt resolution we just voted out. so it is absolutely critical that the committee be given the authority to pursue this on their own if the justice department is not responsive.
i therefore urge all of my colleagues to join me in support of this civil contempt resolution and i'll yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from maryland. mr. cummings: i yield to the gentleman from virginia, mr. scott, two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from virginia is recognized for two minutes. mr. scott: thank you, mr. speaker. the thank jalt the gentleman for yielding. the contempt citation pendsing against general holder is unfounded, unfair and unwise. all of this involves questions about gunwalking and we know that the attorney general has handed over thousands of documents in response to multiple subpoenas and so we know that the gunwalking policy began under the bush administration. we know that bush's -- president bush's attorney general, michael mckasey, was briefed on the policy. and it continued. we know that the attorney general holder, when he found out about it, he shut the program down and called for an investigation. if we want to know why the policy started, we should ask officials who served when it started during the bush administration. if we want to know what attorney
general holder knew about fast and furious, we should call former acting director of the a.t.f., ken nelson, who is on record saying that he would have been the one to have informed the attorney general but even he didn't know about fast and furious. but unfortunately requests from the department members of the house committee on oversight and government reform to call these witnesses have been rejected. at this point there's been no articulation of any useful information about the origins of gunwalking and fast and furious or the death of agent brian terry that can be learned from the narrow set of documents still at issue. nor has there been any articulation of any legitimate legislative purpose that can be achieved. and in fact, in fact, chairman issa has silenced whistleblowers who testified about legislation to strengthen law enforcement to open the southwestern border. mr. speaker, now insist on holding attorney general holder in contempt for failing to respond to more subpoenas, the speaker should articulate with
clarity what legitimate purpose should be served by the response? if nothing legitimately useful is to be learned, nor any legislative purpose to be achieved with the continued response to these subpoenas, then it's time for the attorney general to get back to work along with the members of the house. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from california. mr. issa: mr. speaker, i'm not sure if i heard the gentleman right when he said that i silenced whistleblowers in order to keep them from talking about gun control. is the gentleman disparaging and falsely claiming that i did something that i know for a fact i did not? mr. cummings: will the gentleman yield? mr. issa: of course. mr. cummings: i'll tell what you you did. when we -- you called the whistleblowers in and the whistleblowers who were a.t.f. agents, and you know this -- mr. issa: reclaiming my time. mr. cummings: i'm asking you a question. mr. issa: reclaiming my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california drolls the time. mr. issa: reclaiming my time, it's pretty clear you're disparaging me and you're